When you think of South Korea usually wine is not what comes to mind. You think of palaces, fortresses and even Gangnam now because of Psy. But Korea does have a lot of wineries. This weekend I went on a day trip on the wine train. I am a huge wine drinker so this immediately appealed to me. The trip cost 93,000 won ($93). The train picked us up from Suwon station around 9:40 am. The train would be headed south to Yeongdong, to the Chateau Mani winery. On the way down to Yeongdong we sat in the cinema car, which obviously meant we would be watching a movie.
Breakfast was not included but they did give us a triangle kimbap and an egg as a snack. Everything was in Korean so it might be a little difficult for foreigners to understand everything. As we started on the long ride the movie got started.It was also a Korean movie but it wasn't hard to understand what was happening. The chairs were were comfortable, they reclined so far back it felt like you were lying down. I think I fell asleep midway through the movie, but when I woke up we were still not at our destination. I think the train ride was about 2.5 hours.
After we got off the train we had to take a coach bus to the winery. It was about 10-15 minutes away. As soon as we get there we would be having a buffet lunch with unlimited wine! They had one white wine which was a little dry, and three red wines (raspberry, sweet and Zenith). Basically all the red wines were very sweet! Usually I'm not a fan of wine that sweet, but it was good.
The food was a Korean buffet so there was kimbap, bulgogi, rice, pasta, stirfry, kimchi, tofu, etc. We ate for about 30 minutes but I was still full from the breakfast I had.
After we ate we took a couple pictures around outside of the winery.
After we took our pictures, we went to where the foot spa was. I was so excited to try this. You have to take off your shoes and jackets and they provide you with sandals and a small towel. After that you go to this are and soak your feet in wine. It smells so delicious. Apparently it is very good for you, it also makes your skin very soft. There are lots of grape vines on the ceiling with different wine names, i'm guessing in the summer there are lots of grapes hanging down.
Our group on this trip were mostly women aged 40+ so we were the youngest in the whole group. We didn't really mind though. We sat in one of the tubs with the older ladies who were so sweet. I had one sitting beside me who rubbed my leg and told me how beautiful my skin was. Then we had to give our partners short massages which actually felt really nice.
After the foot spa, we were giving free time (about 20min) to walk around the grounds. so, we went down to the wine cave. It was very dark and there were so many barrels of wine in there.
After walking around the wine cave and wine cafe, we went into the other wine building.
This building had collections of aged Chateau Mani wine enclosed in cases. We learned that wineries are fairly new in Korea. They have only been around for about 35 years.
After we finished walking around the show room we went down stairs. They even have a private wine cellar where anyone can store their wine for a fee. We saw one person with about 6 sections packed with wine. I'm guessing these private cellars are not cheap otherwise everyone would have one.
After the private wine cellars we went to the gift shop and looked around. They had a variety of different wines. Lots of red wines. They always had interesting things made from wine bottles, like clocks, candle holders and plant holders. Gift shops are always overpriced and this one was no exception. A small bottle of wine was about $35.
After the winery we took a short bus ride to Okgye Waterfalls. We had to walk about 10 minutes to get here, but it was a very easy walk. It isn't the best waterfall I've seen but it was still beautiful.
After seeing the waterfall we went to the Nangye Korean Traditional Museum. There was a special performance with traditional Korean instruments. They played Korean songs as well as the theme song to Pirates of the Caribbean and "Let it be", by the Beetles. The group was made of mostly women and a few men. After the performance we had to go to another area where we could learn to play traditional Korean drums, but there was a downpour of rain.
After the musical performance we had to go to to another building where we would learn to play the traditional Korean drums. It was pouring very heavily so I wanted to wait til it slowed down a bit but it didn't seem like it was going to. Luckily Korean people are awesome and I had a man walk me to the building under his umbrella! There were two rooms set up with drums for everyone. Of course I had no idea what was going on so I just watched everyone else. There were two types of drums; Janggu (hourglass drum) and Buk (barrel drum). At first I was played Buk which reminded me of the snare drum.
After about 10 minutes we switched sides, and drums. So now we would have Janggu. I thought this one was difficult because of the way you have to hold the stick in your left hand. In the picture i'm not even holding it night, hahaha.
All of a sudden the facilitator of the class called me up. I had no idea she was even talking to me or why i was going up and I really didn't want to. Then she played a rhythm on the Korean belled called Jing and wanted to repeat it, which I did perfectly. Everyone in the class was so surprised and clapped for me. I HATE being called out, but at the same time it's cool I got to do it. But I was supposed to keep the rhythm while the rest of the class was doing another rhythm with their drums. I lost concentration fast because I was nervous, but it was fun.
After the instrument playing, the bus picked us up and took us back to Yeongdong Station where we would be back on the wine train to Seoul. This time we would be sitting in the wine train car!!! Yay!! I was so excited to drink some more wine. I didn't get to take pictures early in the morning of the train because we had to get on fast, so I made sure to do it while we had time.
This was our wine car train. The blue seats swivel around and are quite comfortable. Every 2-4 people got a plate of snacks; tomatoes, grapes, chips, crackers, cheese, chocolate, popcorn, muffins. We also got a wine train pen and stickers. I was quite impressed with the inside of the wine train, it was very stylish and fit the theme great.
As you can see we were overly excited to be sitting in the wine train! Who wouldn't be?
As the train started to move we were given etiquette about drinking wine and how to hold a wine glass. I had no idea you were not supposed to hold it by the bowl (the round part where the stem attaches to). I'm glad they taught us the correct way. After we were told about the four types of wine, there was one white one, and three red wines which were all pretty sweet. Then we did a couple ice breakers with the people sitting around us. They were men in their 40s and 50s from the rotary club who were really nice to us and watched out for us while we were at the winery. They gave us lots of snacks also.
The stickers were for Kai, Bai, Bo ( Rock, paper, scissors) game, the loser gets a sticker on the face. I am very familiar with this game, my students play ALL the time and we always use it as a tie breaker as well. I actually did really good against Jung. I had one sticker on my face and she had all of hers. Then the men beside us wanted to challenge me and I lost big time (peep the picture below).
I took pictures with a a lot of the men from the rotary club, they were a lot of fun with their broken English trying to communicate with me. The wine was only unlimited for about an hour, so we had to make sure we drank it a little faster than usual to get our money's worth. There was also live entertainment on the train; a man singing Korean songs. Everyone loved it, it was also the wine, it just made everyone so happy. People we dancing and singing along. I know we were because I recorded it but I seemed to forget that part the next day. I always love to spend time with Koreans they're always so much fun!
If you are looking for something to do on the weekends this tour would be a great choice. It may be a little difficult to book because the website is in Korean but if you know any Koreans try to get them to help you out. Or try to find a group of foreigners that are planning to go. For more information check out their website.
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